Bill Hartzer

I Upgraded to PHP 7, You’ll Never Guess What Happened

Back at the beginning of this month, October 2018, I upgraded the version of PHP that the web server was using. It upgraded it from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7. I had received a few warning/messages, that starting in December that there was some software on the server that wouldn’t be supported. So, I needed to upgraded to a more recent version of PHP. I went ahead and upgraded all the sites I host on this server to PHP 7. And after that, you’ll never guess what happened. Here’s a screenshot from my Google Analytics for this site:

It’s been 20 days since I upgraded to PHP 7 on this particular WordPress blog–so I thought I would check it to see if it made any difference. I’m actually been very surprised that even Google Analytics is reporting a HUGE increase in page load speed. In fact, the average page load time (in seconds) went from 7.18 seconds to 3.53 seconds. And that’s across 1,000+ posts/pages that I have on this site.

That’s an increase of over 50 percent, just by upgrading to PHP 7.

While the page views are down in the past 20 days, that’s due to my lack of posting every day like I try to do. I’ve been super busy helping sites get ready for the holiday season, and completing some SEO audits. Also, I was pretty much out all last week due to PubCon Las Vegas 2018.

Process for Upgrading to PHP 7

So, how can you take advantage of this? If you have a WordPress blog, then there’s really no reason that you should not upgrade. If you are running an older version of WordPress, then there might be an issue. But if you’re like me and upgrade to the latest version of WordPress (usually), then here’s what you need to do:

  1. First, check to see if the plugins you’re using are compatible with PHP 7.
  2. WP Engine has a compatibility checker plugin. Install the PHP 7 Compatibility Checker plugin from WP Engine and let it check to see if there are going to be any issues.
  3. If it looks good, and everything passes (no compatibility issues), I would look at the plugins you do have installed and remove any that you’re not using.
  4. Of course, make a backup of your WordPress site first before you do anything else.
  5. I am running cPanel on this server, and it has MultiPHP Manager installed. I asked my web host to upgrade all the domains on the server to PHP 7 as a default, which they did.
  6. Once the upgrade was complete. I was able to have the peace of mind that I could actually go back to a previous version of PHP if one particular WordPress site was having an issue for some reason.
  7. I checked all of the sites, and didn’t see any issues, so upgrading to PHP 7 was helpful. I manually checked all WordPress sites by logging into them and then manually looking at each site.

I really didn’t notice any issues with any WordPress plugins or themes when I upgraded to PHP 7. I did, in fact, check the page load speed on this site and I can tell you that the speed of the home page, for example, loaded a LOT faster. It didn’t help that I added more posts on the site’s home page, but just seeing the posts load 50 percent faster is good enough for me.

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